Section I: Steps Taken to Apply the Presumption of Openness

The guiding principle underlying the President's FOIA Memorandum and the Attorney General's FOIA Guidelines is the presumption of openness.

Describe the steps your agency has taken to ensure that the presumption of openness is being applied to all decisions involving the FOIA. To do so, you should answer the questions listed below and then include any additional information you would like to describe how your agency is working to apply the presumption of openness.

FOIA Training:

  1. Did your agency hold an agency FOIA conference, or otherwise conduct training during this reporting period?

  2. If so, please provide the number of conferences or trainings held, a brief description of the topics covered, and an estimate of the number of participants from your agency who were in attendance.

    Overall, it is estimated that more than 400 FOIA professionals within HHS participated in FOIA training. The HHS, Office of the Secretary and several OpDivs conducted conferences and training courses to a variety of agency personnel, in an effort to highlight openness, transparency, and accountability, to help enhance and improve the FOIA process during the reporting period. The OpDivs and StaffDivs which conducted FOIA training course include the CDC, CMS, FDA, HRSA, IHS, NIH, OIG, and SAMHSA. The HHS, Office of the Secretary, conducted a one-day HHS-wide FOIA Conference in November 2013, which was attended by 110 department employees. At the HHS-wide FOIA Conference several topics where presented, such as FOIA exemption (b)(5) - Deliberative Process/Pre-decisional Privileges, questions and answers regarding FOIA exemption (b)(5), FOIA Litigation - lessons learned, trends, and settlements, records management and adequacy of search, and negotiating/conflicts management.

    The CDC FOIA office held internal training sessions with FOIA staff as well as with program officials and program staff throughout 2013. The CDC training sessions were a comprehensive overview of the provisions of FOIA, as well as, advice regarding fulfillment of FOIA was provided to program officials, program staff, and coordinators, where approximately 200 agency employees attended the training over the course of the period covered by this report.

    The CMS FOIA office conducted and implemented training sessions, upon program request, throughout the reporting period and conducted interactive monthly conference calls with regional FOIA coordinators, management officials, and Medicare Administrative Contractors, to discuss changes in disclosure policy and tracking system updates.  In addition, in October/November 2013, the CMS FOIA Officer conducted FOIA implementation training with specific emphasis on pre-disclosure notification and the application of FOIA exemption (b)(4) to contract records for 160 contracting officials within the CMS acquisitions and grants management function. 

    Within the FDA, two (2) training sessions were offered OPDIV-wide, and included both in-person and webinar participation in September and December 2013, where the total attendance was approximately 100 agency employees at each session, and included both FOIA and non-FOIA personnel. The training was recorded and uploaded to FDA’s FOIA intranet page for future reference and viewing.  Topics included the history of the FOIA, the statutory provisions, FOIA Exemptions, FDA’s FOIA regulations, the OPEN Government Act, President Obama’s Memorandum, Attorney General Holder’s Memorandum, and Redaction exercises. Also, within the FDA, additional smaller training sessions were conducted for specific offices within the FDA OPDIV, running approximately two (2) to four (4) hours each. These training sessions covered the subjects listed above, as well as FOIA searches, redaction, denials, and appeals. Furthermore, various OPDIV components within the FDA provided their own training for their new and existing staff.

    The HRSA FOIA office held two training sessions. The topic covered was “FOIA 101” followed by a questions and answers sessions to address particular ongoing concerns within HRSA, where approximately 25 to 30 agency employees attended each session.  The attendees were primarily FOIA Gatekeepers who server as our liaisons in collecting documents from the bureaus and offices in our agency.

    The IHS FOIA office provided training at the Indian Health Service sponsored conference and provided training for other program staff to assist with the processing of FOIA requests by utilizing other staff (those not directly with FOIA duties in their position descriptions and without a previous FOIA background).  The Indian Health Partnership conference attendees included IHS employees, Tribal employees and Urban Program employees. The IHS FOIA office conducted two (2) training sessions, where topics discussed included FOIA Overview, Employee Responsibilities under FOIA, and FOIA Updates. In addition the IHS FOIA office has provided training to those program employees who work closely with FOIA staff in order to provide responsive materials in a timely manner. 

    The NIH FOIA Officer held quarterly meetings with the NIH FOIA professionals to discuss various FOIA related topics.  Included in those meetings were FOIA case-law updates and guidance regarding the application of FOIA exemptions (b)(4), (b)(5),  and (b)(6), processing referrals and consults, and processing- related best practices. In addition, the NIH FOIA office held quarterly meetings with the NIH FOIA professionals to discuss various FOIA related topics. 

    The OIG conducted component liaison training for several regional offices. The OIG conducted three (3) training sessions, using video conference systems as on-site training.  The training consisted of a basic overview of the FOIA in addition to component specific areas. There were approximately 60-75 individuals trained.

    The SAMHSA FOIA office provided two (2) training sessions in 2013.  The first training was a limited training opportunity for staff in the Executive Correspondence Branch (ECB).  The second training session was held for the nine new FOIA liaisons that will be supporting the FOIA work across SAMHSA. The nine liaisons are selected from each Center and Office at SAMHSA.

  3. Did your FOIA professionals attend any FOIA training during the reporting period such as that provided by the Department of Justice?

    Yes. Several FOIA professionals within the Office of the Secretary, OpDivs and StaffDivs attended FOIA training offered by the Department of Justice (DOJ). In an effort to expand their knowledge of FOIA, some FOIA personnel also attended FOIA training offered by other organizations throughout the reporting period.

  4. Provide an estimate of the percentage of your FOIA professionals who attended substantive FOIA training during this reporting period.
    • Office of the Secretary - 80%
    • ACF - 100%
    • CMS - 40%
    • FDA  - 95%
    • HRSA - 100%
    • IHS  - 100%
    • NIH -  100%
    • OASH - 28%
    • OIG – 40%
    • OMHA - 100% 
    • SAMHSA - 100%
  5. OIP has issued guidance that every agency should make core, substantive FOIA training available to all their FOIA professionals at least once each year. Provide your agency’s plan for ensuring that such training is offered to all agency FOIA professionals by March 2015. Your plan should anticipate an upcoming reporting requirement for your 2015 Chief FOIA Officer Reports that will ask whether all agency FOIA professionals attended substantive FOIA training in the past year.>

    The Office of the Secretary plans to hold an Annual HHS-wide FOIA Conference in Fiscal Year 2014.

    The ACF FOIA office proposes to sponsor a series of FOIA brown bag lunch training sessions, mandatory for FOIA professionals and opens to all ACF staff, on select FOIA topics and encourages all ACF professionals to attend agency FOIA educational programs.

    Within the CDC, plans are underway to invite FOIA professionals from HHS and outside sources to provide training at the CDC in Atlanta.

    The CMS FOIA Officer prescribes to a plan of continuous improvement opportunity.  As such, headquarters FOIA analysts conduct routine meetings to discuss FOIA implementation and process improvements.  Additionally, CMS conducts interactive monthly conference calls with regional FOIA coordinators, management officials, and Medicare Administrative Contractors, to discuss changes in disclosure policy and tracking system updates.  In addition to training provided to FOIA professionals, CMS provides FOIA implementation training to interested CMS staffs upon request.  An Informational Overview of the CMS FOIA program is available at:

    The FDA FOIA office offers a half-day training session, two to three times per year. Repeat attendance is encouraged, given the complexity of the material and regulatory changes.  In addition, FDA continues to provide customized FOIA training, upon request, to specific offices within the op div, and specific op div components provided training to their own staffs. The FDA expects this level of training to continue through 2015.

    The HRSA FOIA office plan to attend at least one of the three remaining training sessions for “Attorneys and FOIA Professionals” conducted by the DOJ.  HRSA will also try to take advantage of any local training held by other organizations, but that will be dependent on how much training and travel money is available – if any.    

    Within IHS, the FOIA specialist attends FOIA training when budget permits. Otherwise, the FOIA staff attends all government sponsored training that is free.

    The NIH FOIA office continues to hold quarterly meetings with all NIH FOIA professionals.  The NIH FOIA office also will be presenting FOIA training specific to processing requests for contracts and contract related documents.

    The OASH FOIA office provides the following training to its staff: on the job training to its staff, senior staff mentors the junior staff; staff is encouraged to attend Department of Justice training, and training and education during team meetings.

    Within SAMHSA, it has always been the policy of the SAMHSA FOIA Office to support staff training.  The SAMHSA FOIA Officer has been extended the opportunity to receive training from DOJ, OGIS and ASAP.  In that regard, the immediate training goals for the new FOIA Correspondence Assistant would most likely include the February 25 – 26, 2014 Training for Attorneys and Access Professional with limited FOIA experience and the April 16, 2014- training- Introduction to the FOIA, the basic overview of FOIA.  Both trainings presented by DOJ.


  1. Did your FOIA professionals engage in any outreach and dialogue with the requester community or open government groups regarding your administration of the FOIA? If so, please briefly discuss that engagement.

    Yes. Several HHS OpDivs continued to make outreach and dialogue with the requester community in many ways.

    The ACF FOIA office routinely speaks with requesters concerning FOIA requests.  ACF is planning FOIA roundtables organized by requester communities, starting in 2014. 

    The CDC FOIA office engages in dialogue with requesters to assist in refining search efforts to ensure that requesters receive documents of interest.

    The CMS FOIA office has demonstrated a strong commitment to greater data transparency in recent years. The Health Data Initiative was launched by HHS in 2010 to promote transparent, innovative, and safe data use.  The CMS is also engaged with a wide range of public, non-profit, and private sector stakeholders to foster the availability and use of health care data to drive innovations that improve health and health care. Since 2010, CMS has released an unprecedented amount of aggregated data in machine-readable form. These data range from previously unpublished statistics on Medicare spending, utilization, and quality at the state, hospital referral region, and county level, to detailed information on the quality performance of hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers.  In May 2013, CMS released information on the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient services at more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide, followed in June with the release of average charges for 30 selected outpatient procedures. On May 31, 2013, a Florida federal district court lifted a permanent injunction originally issued in 1979 that prohibited the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (as HHS was then known) from disclosing annual Medicare reimbursement payments to individual physicians or in a manner that could identify individual physicians.  On August 6, 2013, in light of this recent legal development and our ongoing commitment to greater transparency in the health care system, CMS sought public input on the most appropriate policies with respect to disclosure of individual physician payment data.

    Specifically, CMS sought public input as the Agency considers what would be the most appropriate policy regarding release of physician payment data with regard to:

    (1) Whether physicians have a privacy interest in information concerning payments they receive from Medicare and, if so, how to properly weigh the balance between that privacy interest and the public interest in disclosure of Medicare payment information, including physician-identifiable reimbursement data;

    (2) What specific policies CMS should consider with respect to disclosure of individual physician payment data that will further the goals of improving the quality and value of care, enhancing access and availability of CMS data, increasing transparency in government, and reducing fraud, waste, and abuse within CMS programs; and,

    (3) The form in which CMS should release information about individual physician payment, should CMS choose to release it (e.g., line item claim details, aggregated data at the individual physician level).

    The CMS received more than 130 comments representing the views of over 300 organizations and individuals.  The request for comment resulted in a myriad of opinions from different individuals and entities including, but not limited to, physicians, nurse practitioners, journalists, trade associations, professional medical societies, hospitals and health systems, data analytics firms, academicians, consumers, insurers, and employer groups.  All commenters concur that any release of data must safeguard against patient re-identification.  Comments on the release of Medicare Physician Data are available at:  Also, during the reporting period on January 17, 2014, CMS published a “Modified Policy on Freedom of Information Act Disclosure Amounts Paid to Individual Physicians under the Medicare Program.”  The publication PDF version can be found at:  Additionally, the CMS Principal Deputy Administrator published a statement about the policy modification on The CMS blog (

    The FDA’s FOIA professionals engage in regular outreach and dialogue with the requester community and/or open government groups regarding our administration of the FOIA.  First, the FDA contacts requesters with respect to specific FOIA requests that are submitted in order to make sure that the requests are being processed in an accurate and efficient manner.  Second, the FDA’s Division of Freedom of Information (DFOI) serves as a call center for all FOIA requesters who need information about a specific request or the general FOIA program at FDA. DFOI can provide such information directly to the requester community, or it can connect the requester with the office(s) processing a particular request. 

    The NIH FOIA office communicates with requesters on a regular basis.  Unless the request is very straight-forward, we have a conversation with nearly every FOIA requester.

    The SAMHSA FOIA Office is more than willing to engage in dialogue with the requester community.  However, because of the limited staff and the immense workload, it is challenging to carve out quality time to create such an event for SAMHSA’s requester community.  SAMHSA does however, work individually with requesters and are always available to assist and support FOIA requesters with requests that can be challenging for both the requester and the SAMHSA FOIA office. 

Discretionary Disclosures:

In his 2009 FOIA Guidelines, the Attorney General strongly encouraged agencies to make discretionary releases of information even when the information might be technically exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. OIP encourages agencies to make such discretionary releases whenever there is no foreseeable harm from release.

  1. Does your agency have a formal process in place to review records for discretionary release? If so, please briefly describe this process. If your agency is decentralized, please specify whether all components at your agency have a process in place for making discretionary releases.

    No. Although, all HHS FOIA components do not have a system in place, the Office of the Secretary performs a review of numerous intra-inter agency communications to determine if the release meets the foreseeable harm standard.

    The ACF FOIA office trains FOIA program office liaisons and executive staff on making discretionary release of internal communications and rigorously applies the “foreseeable harm” standard.

    Within the CDC, documents undergo a Subject Matter Expert (SME) review before returning to the FOIA Office for a review and release determination.  SMEs are asked to review documents for Exemption (b)(5) considerations and to articulate actual harm to the agency of release of those documents, or portions thereof.  Program staff is encouraged to make discretionary releases wherever possible to affirm CDC’s commitment to transparency.  The FOIA Officer makes the final determination about release.

    Within the FDA, several components routinely review records for discretionary releases as part of their FOIA processing procedures.  When reviewing material that may fall within a discretionary exemption, FOIA professionals apply the appropriate test for releasability based on current law and policy in to order ensure the greatest level of transparency.

    Within NIH All responsive records are reviewed with the goal of releasing as much as possible.  Any and all requests for denial are carefully reviewed by the NIH FOIA Officer and the FOIA professionals under her supervision.  A denial will only be issued if the program office requesting the withholding has articulated in writing the harm release would cause and if the FOIA Officer agrees. 

    The OASH FOIA office reviews the information and determines what harm would occur to the Department if that information was released.  In many cases, the deliberative back-and-forth among Department staff is not harmful if disclosed.  In those cases, we will release the information.

    The OMHA makes a strong effort to adhere to making discretionary releases. However, in all instances where OMHA has withheld information, it was done to protect individual privacy as much of the agency’s FOIA requests deal with personal medical information. OMHA has never made any discretionary releases of otherwise exempt information. During this report year, OMHA has not received any requests for material which were exempt and required deliberative process handling to avoid potential harm from release.

    The SAMHSA does not have a “formal” process for handling discretionary releases of information given the types of requests that are received at the agency.   However, SAMHSA do utilize a two phase process that works well when the issue arises.   In phase one- the program staff is the direct contact in providing the context of the information in question.  SAMHSA rely upon the expertise of the program staff to ensure that the FOIA Office that the release of the information would not cause harm to SAMHSA programs or interfere with SAMHSA’s future deliberative and decision-making process.  In phase II of the process, SAMHSA FOIA office have access to the Legal counsel to advise the FOIA staff concerning legal issues surrounding the discretionary release of information.  SAMHSA seek legal counsel advice at the review stage of a possible discretionary release rather than in an unnecessary stage of litigation of a FOIA request. In addition, SAMHSA has provided requesters with information pertaining to recommendations and opinions made during the evaluation of certain first party requests. Because of the age of the information and the context of the information, discretionary releases were made.  This information was specific to the requesters. This information would not have been available to a third party requester. SAMHSA also made information available pertaining to a stream of e-mails discussions between SAMHSA staff and grant program staff.

  2. During the reporting period did your agency make any discretionary releases of otherwise exempt information?


  3. What exemptions would have covered the information that was released as a matter of discretion?

    Several OpDivs released information, which would have usually been withheld under the several FOIA exemptions. These exemptions include FOIA exemption (b)(2), which permits the withholding of records solely to the internal personnel rules and practices. The FOIA exemption (b)(7)(A), permit the withholding of information, which would interfere with an open and ongoing investigation compiled for law enforcement purposes. The most typical type of material released as a matter of discretion is that which is covered by FOIA exemption (b)(5), permits the withholding of intra or inter agency communications, which covers documentation of the deliberative process, attorney work-product and attorney-client material privileges.  The components within HHS, which released information as a matter of discretion include:

    • OS - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
    • ACF - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
    • CDC - FOIA exemption (b)(5)  
    • CMS - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
    • FDA - FOIA exemptions (b)(2), (b)(5), and (b)(7)(A)
    • HRSA - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
    • NIH - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
    • OASH  - FOIA exemption (b)(5)
  4. Provide a narrative description, or some examples of, the types of   information that your agency released as a matter of discretion.

    The Office of the Secretary FOIA office made discretionary releases, which contain information, which originated within Executive Office of the President and The White House.

    The ACF FOIA office released internal drafts and emails the release of which, would cause no foreseeable harm. 

    The CDC FOIA office provided background documents in support of journal articles, drafts, and discussion documents.

    The CMS FOIA office has historically used Exemption (b) (5) sparingly, relative to the number of requests it processes.  CMS processed 51,682 initial requests in fiscal year 2013.  During this timeframe, CMS used Exemption 5 in 26 processed cases or 0.38% of the instances where it used an exemption.  This limited use of Exemption (b)(5) is consistent with the April 17, 2009, guidance issued by the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy.  The CMS FOIA office works with program staff to determine whether or not the release of the records in question has the potential to cause actual harm.  Because the decision to use FOIA exemption (b)(5) is made by the CMS FOIA Officer or his delegate, CMS ensures that it does not routinely apply FOIA exemption (b)(5) to records that may otherwise have been withheld due to “speculative or abstract fears.”

    The FDA FOIA office and its FOIA components routinely review records for discretionary releases. For example, the FDA released information about a personnel decision to the subject of the personnel action, as it related to internal HR policy and procedures under exemption (b)(2). Additional records discretionary releases were made under exemption (b)(5). For example, some internal recommendations/discussions in approval records which may have formerly been withheld under FOIA Exemption 5, as deliberative and pre-decisional information, are now being routinely released.  In addition, the FDA releases drafts and internal emails that might have been previously withheld under Exemption 5. Furthermore, the FDA released information related to ongoing investigations, where it was determined that no harm would result in the investigation, which would routinely be withheld under exemption (b)(7)(A).

    The HRSA FOIA office released over 100 pages of emails between HRSA staff and a particular individual involved in rolling out a key new program while they worked both at HHS and, later, at the White House. 

    The NIH FOIA office released pre-decisional discussions of policy matters, primarily emails and copies of draft documents.

    The OASH FOIA office released information within email communications regarding a decision that was previously made, in certain instances OASH will release the back and forth communications on why a particular decision was made and others were not.

  5. If your agency was not able to make any discretionary releases of information, please explain why.

    Not applicable

Other Initiatives:

  1. Did your agency post all of the required quarterly FOIA reports for Fiscal Year 2013? If not, please explain why not and what your plan is for ensuring that such reporting is successfully accomplished for Fiscal Year 2014.

    Yes, at the outset of DOJ guidance and implementation of the quarterly reports, HHS has made the reports are available for viewing at

  2. Describe any other initiatives undertaken by your agency to ensure that the presumption of openness is being applied. If any of these initiatives are online, please provide links in your description.

    In 2013, ACF FOIA staff focused on increasing awareness of and knowledge about FOIA among non-FOIA agency personnel.  ACF FOIA leadership met individually with agency and program office leadership to discuss FOIA and ACF’s responsibilities in the area of FOIA and transparency in general and provided an orientation to Regional Administrators. The ACF FOIA staff also provided training to one entire program office and cultivated a new, stronger set of liaisons to manage FOIA request processing efforts within program offices.  ACF also automated reminder emails to both the FOIA liaisons and their supervisors, which resulted in a significant improvement in response time. These efforts will be followed in FY 2014 with additional leadership training, agency-wide recognition of Sunshine Week, brown bag lunches open to non-FOIA staff and other educational efforts.  

    Within the CDC Discretionary releases are encouraged.  Training for program staff is offered to ensure that as much information as possible is released to the public. 

    Within the CMS, it has made a tremendous effort to ensure that openness is being applied.

    • CMS Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Experience Report - The PQRS and eRx Experience report summarizes the reporting experience of eligible professionals in these programs for a given program year including, historical trends, and preliminary results for the current program year.
    • List of eligible professionals who satisfactorily participated in PQRS & List of Successful e-prescribers:
    • Plan Payment Data - The files posted at this link contain payment data for Part C Plans, Part D Plans, Part D Plan Reconciliation, and Retiree Drug Subsidy Plans and is summarized by specific data categories.  The categories of data are expressed at a summary level only. In instances where the level of aggregation identified in a data category was determined to be potentially insufficient to provide adequate protection against disaggregation of proprietary information or beneficiary identifiable information, such data is not included in said category.
    • Model MA and Part D contracts - Contract templates are located in the .zip file entitled “2014 Medicare Advantage and Part D Contract Templates.”  The materials include the contracts, addenda, and attestations that Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Sponsors must sign to operate plans in 2014.
    • Medicare Advantage/Part D Contract and Enrollment Data - These data describe the details of the approved plan benefit packages offered to Medicare beneficiaries participating in MA and/or Part D.
    • Fee-For-Service (FFS) Appeals information and Data - This is the overview page for the Original FFS Medicare administrative claims appeals process.  It contains high level summaries of the standard and expedited appeals processes, as well as instructions on how to appoint a representative in the appeals process.  Also listed on this page are links to other webpages which provide detailed explanations of each level of the appeals process, regulatory and sub-regulatory guidance, flowcharts, and forms related to the appeals process.
    • CMS Fast Facts mobile site – Provides program and financial data all at the touch of your fingertips.  Formatted to open on smart phone or tablet.
    • CMS Statistics (blue book) - reference booklet provides a quick reference for summary information about health expenditures and the Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.
    • Chronic Conditions – Chartbook, geographic data, and dashboard which examine chronic conditions among beneficiaries in order to provide researchers and policymakers a better understanding of the burden of chronic conditions among beneficiaries and the implications for our health care system.  These reports also highlight the use of health care services by beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions and Medicare spending associated with multiple chronic conditions.
    • Data Navigator – An easy-to-use, menu-driven search tool that makes the data and information resources of CMS more easily available. Use the Data Navigator to find data and information products for specific CMS programs, health care topics or settings-of-care. Navigator displays search results by data type making it easier to locate specific types of information (e.g., data files, publications, statistical reports, etc.).
    • – This site is dedicated to making high value health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers in the hopes of better health outcomes for all.  A Federal government website managed by the Department of Health & Human Services.
    • Insight Briefs - intended to provide readers with timely, data driven analysis and insights on the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
    • Medicaid Analytic Extract (MAX) – A research-friendly set of Medicaid administrative files.
    • Medicare & Medicaid Research Review (MMRR) - An authoritative medium for disseminating high-quality and relevant research to a wide audience of Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance stakeholders.  MMRR is a peer-reviewed, online journal (ISSN 2159-0354) reporting data and research that informs current and future directions of CMS programs.  The journal seeks to examine and evaluate health care coverage, quality and access to care for beneficiaries, and payment for health services.
    • Medicare & Medicaid Statistical Supplement - An annual report that provides detailed statistical information on Medicare, Medicaid, and CMS programs. The Supplement includes 115 tables and 67 charts describing health expenditures for the entire U.S. population, characteristics of the Medicare and Medicaid covered populations, use of services, and expenditures under these programs. This CMS report is published annually in electronic form and is available for each year from 2001 through present.
    • Medicare Claims Synthetic Public Use Files (SynPUFs) - Created to allow interested parties to gain familiarity using Medicare claims data while protecting beneficiary privacy.  The data structure of the Medicare SynPUFs is very similar to the CMS Limited Data Sets, but with a smaller number of variables.  They provide data analysts and software developers the opportunity to develop programs and products utilizing the identical formats and variable names as those which appear in the actual CMS data files.
    • Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) - A continuous, multipurpose survey of a nationally representative sample of the Medicare population, conducted by the Office of Information Products and Data Analysis (OIPDA) of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through a contract with Westat. The central goals of MCBS are to determine expenditures and sources of payment for all services used by Medicare beneficiaries, including co-payments, deductibles, and non-covered services; to ascertain all types of health insurance coverage and relate coverage to sources of payment; and to trace processes over time, such as changes in health status and spending down to Medicaid eligibility and the impacts of program changes, satisfaction with care, and usual source of care.
    • Medicare Geographic Variation - Federal policymakers and health researchers have long recognized that the amount and quality of the health care services that Medicare beneficiaries receive vary substantially across different regions of the United States.  The Office of Information Products and Data Analytics (OIPDA) at CMS has made several resources available to researchers, policymakers, and other users who are interested in learning more about geographic variation in Medicare.
    • Medicare Provider Charge Data - As part of the Obama administration’s work to make our health care system more affordable and accountable, data are being released that show significant variation across the country and within communities in what providers charge for common services. These data include information comparing the charges for the 100 most common inpatient services and 30 common outpatient services.  Providers determine what they will charge for items and services provided to patients and these charges are the amount the provider’s bill for an item or service.
    • Qualified Entity Program - Section 10332 of the Affordable Care Act amends section 1874 of the Social Security Act (the Act) by adding a new subsection (e) requiring standardized extracts of Medicare claims data under parts A, B, and D to be made available to ‘‘qualified entities'' for the evaluation of the performance of providers and suppliers.  Qualified entities may use the information obtained under section 1874(e) of the Act for the purpose of evaluating the performance of providers and suppliers, and to generate public reports regarding such performance.
    • Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC) -  Provides free assistance to academic and non-profit researchers interested in using Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and MCBS data for research. ResDAC offers a number of services for researchers with all levels of experience using or planning to use CMS data. Services include technical data assistance, information on available data resources, and training.

    Within the FDA, there is a Transparency Task Force, which was created in 2009 to develop recommendations for making useful and understandable information about FDA activities and decision making more readily available to the public in a timely manner and in a user-friendly format.  Information about the Task Force is available at the agency’s transparency website, at

    Within the HRSA, all releases are done through the HRSA FOIA Office and, the extent possible and apply the presumption of openness.

    The IHS FOIA staff took the initiative to work closely with the Office of Environmental Health and Engineering staff in order to reuqest that they post one of the most frequently requested lists to the public on their website.  This process was months beore completion and with the assistance of that program, we were able to provide easily found information about  Open Dumps on Tribal Lands.  FOIA Staff requested that we have that listing updated quarterly and since it’s been posted, we have heard positive feedback on the listing being abvailable without waiting for a response through the FOIA channels.  Additionally, the IHS FOIA Staff worked closely with the IHS, Office of Information Technology to have the website updated each quarter and ensure that documents were esasily accessed and available download.   

    The NIH FOIA office never retreated from the presumption of openness reflected in the Reno FOIA Memorandum and, therefore, has not needed to implement any major adjustments to its internal guidance or launch any major new initiatives. However, NIH FOIA professionals are reminded of the presumption of openness at every quarterly meeting and in specific instances when records are referred to the NIH FOIA Office for review. The NIH FOIA Officer presented many talks on FOIA to the NIH Community and stressed the presumption of openness at each.

    Within the OASH, to ensure that a presumption of openness is being applied, OASH closely examines any initial request and appeal that has information which could be withheld pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5) of the FOIA and re-reviewing it with an eye toward partial or full release. 

    Presently, the OMHA has made available on its public website information concerning the timeliness of the processing of appeals. OMHA is working on an appeals specific database so that individuals can ascertain the status of appeals that they have files with OMHA and have been providing our raw data

    via, in compliance with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Data Initiative, where data is available is data from 2006 to 2012. 

    The SAMHSA FOIA office is particularly interested in posting previously processed grants and contracts on its website. However, despite 508 compliance requirements to post these records and the cost to convert these documents to its website, SAMHSA is reviewing other possible options.     

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